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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a very small CNC Router at present. I have found that with all that I am doing and all that I would like to do a larger router would be a nice addition. I have been watching reading and searching the web for a product that I can afford and try and put together myself. I cannot afford at this time, a new CNC. of the size I would like to have. I am now looking to build my own.
Questions:
1. Has any one already built a CNC Router?
2. What model and kind did you purchase?
3. How hard was it to put together?
4. Has any one purchased a CNC called (X-Carve)?
5. If you have purchased the X-Carve, are you happy with it?
A. If you have purchased this brand, would you do so again and what recommendations do you have?
Any information will and would be most welcome.
Thank You,
Tagwatts1
 

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The x-carve is popular, but still pretty lightweight and can only take fairly shallow cuts. Probably not a huge step up in capabilities from what you have now. I’d hold off and make a bigger step up. How big a cutting area do you want?

Popular kits here the CNC Router Parts ones (2’x4’ up to 4’x8’) and Fine Line Automation Saturn series. These are probably $3k and up, and are very capable.

I built my own, my own design. Got a great deal on some surplus 8020 extrusions that kept my costs way down, under $3k for 50”x60” cut area (can fit a 4’x8’ sheet and “tile” that size design. I posted some photos here http://www.routerforums.com/cnc-routing/113954-diy-cnc-router-original-design.html. For me it was an enjoyable and educational project but I spent several months researching. If “building” a CNC from scratch is not appealing, assembling a kit may be less intimidating.

On CNCzone there is a forum for DIY CNC routers, pay attention to posters “wizard” and “ger21”.
 

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CNC Router

I have an Xcarve 1000 machine. I've had i for about 2 years. It has been heavily upgraded, and is still not a great machine. It's not repeatable and accurate. It does require very shallow cuts. Put your money into CNCrouterParts or probotix. I'm upgrading to an AXIOM CNC. Do not waste your money with XCarve.
 

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Rick
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Frank , I'm in the same boat as you .
I've been studying this for years , at cnczone etc , and I've come to the conclusion that CNCrouterparts appears to be a good setup .
Haven't heard one bad word mentioned on any forum regarding there pro version , and there customer service is excellent. I've talked to them myself a few times and was impressed with there helpfulness and no pressure .
I believe I'm going to build there 4x4 pro version , but build my own electronics to save money .

I've already sourced all the mechanical parts , and because of shipping etc , it's just not worth the headache of me scratch building one , so I'll let CNCrouterparts do the hard part , like the engineering and cutting etc for me.

I wish I had access to that aluminum extrusion that Richard purchaced, as I'd build my own . If you check out Richards build it looks very capable , and he didn't have to take out a second mortgage .
The only other option that comes to mind is Finelineautomation ,but in the past I've seen to much negative feedback for QC , not to mention getting ahold of Nate himself.
Maybe things improved since ?
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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I did my own build, Frank, and used the prototype Saturn 2x4 from Fine Line Automation. It is a beast of a machine - about 600 lbs. as it is configured. Rick is correct on getting hold of Nate; he's better than he used to be but the machines are seriously built and stout and he has made several improvements since we bought ours a year ago. I sourced all the components and designed/built the electronics setup but you can buy that off the shelf from CNC Router Parts and probably other sources. You can see videos of our machine on my YouTube channel - David Falkner Woodworking and the build thread is posted here but Photobucket hosed up the photos.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Re; X - Carve CNC

Thanks for the input guys. I will reconsider what I will do after reading your posts. It seems that X-Carve may not be the way to go.
Again I appreciate all of your thoughts and comments.

Thanks,
Tagwatts1
 

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I am currently building a CNC. The design is one I drew up in Sketch-up with input from a friend who successfully designed and built his own CNC (and working on his second). The bed and side rails are done, now I am working on getting the linear rails aligned. I am using SBR20 for the linear rails with ball screws. The bed is an MDF torsion box which should stay very flat. Mounted to the sides of the bed are 8020 extrusions (30 series) that the SBR20 mounts directly too. The machine as a whole will be supported by the 8020. The gantry frame is also 8020. The physical size of the machine will be about 3.5'x2.5'. The smaller size is so it will fit in my already full shop.

So far the challenges have been:

1. Procuring the best parts at the best price.
2. The SBR20 and 8020 are all metric, and all my tools are standard, so I am often having to do conversions back and forth to make things work
3. Alignment. This is (hopefully!) going to be a precision machine. Taking time to get things aligned can be painstaking but will be worth it in the end.

I have been documenting my build on social media. Here are some pics so far:

1. This is current state: https://www.instagram.com/p/BYzORLDFWht/
2. Here is the gantry: https://www.instagram.com/p/BWWca8MFQjY/
3. A close-up of the side rail assembly: https://www.instagram.com/p/BYmO6ybFUKR
 

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I have built more than ten table tops and full blown 6'x13' machine over the years.

Don't kill yourself on the the build trying to get within some crazy tolerances. Many guys still do this when it's actually all in the surfacing of the table and tramming the mill head(your router Z).

Build carefully, but no need to go overboard.

There are many ways to build a CNC and after so many builds I pretty much stay with R&P and HiWin linear guides, with a ball screw only for the Z, but your design as many others will work just fine. In 2017 there is no reason anyone can't build a machine that is accurate and precise, Good luck with your build.
 

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In 2017 there is no reason anyone can't build a machine that is accurate and precise, Good luck with your build.
I do agree with this! In all honesty, someone who has skills at woodworking and running CAD/CAM software really has the skills needed to build a CNC. It is just a matter of doing ones homework!

What is interesting is the local Woodcraft has a monthly CNC meeting. I started going, and the second meeting I went to I revealed I am building a CNC. I was surprised at the negative response I got from the rest of the group. I got excuses from too costly (its going to cost me about 1/4 of a Shark), to too complicated (See above), to lack of support (if you built the machine, you likely are going to know how to fix it!).

For me, that is why I got into woodworking to begin with. To continue to push to learn and expand new skills, while at the same time creating projects that will last generations.
 

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Rick
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I do agree with this! In all honesty, someone who has skills at woodworking and running CAD/CAM software really has the skills needed to build a CNC. It is just a matter of doing ones homework!

What is interesting is the local Woodcraft has a monthly CNC meeting. I started going, and the second meeting I went to I revealed I am building a CNC. I was surprised at the negative response I got from the rest of the group. I got excuses from too costly (its going to cost me about 1/4 of a Shark), to too complicated (See above), to lack of support (if you built the machine, you likely are going to know how to fix it!).

For me, that is why I got into woodworking to begin with. To continue to push to learn and expand new skills, while at the same time creating projects that will last generations.
I'm with you Mike . What a great learning experience. I almost feel bad building a kit , as I know I can build one as good or stronger . It's not rocket science , and I was going to use hiwin linear rails , which makes it all that easier .

My problem is that after I sourcing the hiwin linear rails , aluminum T-slot extrusion, rack and pinion drives , Z-axis and the other associated parts ,after shipping from several vendors I'm not saving a dime . It may actually cost me more and some headaches .
In my case I may as well spend $4200 at CNCrouterparts for there 4x4 pro version .

I will be be building the electronics though , as I'm certainly not spending $2500 on a plug and play Nema 34's , and I'm not spending another $1700 on a there vfd and spindle .
Be easier to troubleshoot later on if you build the electronics side of things yourself
 

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I'll go further and say a person doesn't even need CAM/CAD skills and can learn them.

I personally will help anyone that wants my assistance with CAD/CAM or the actual building of a CNC. And if I don't know the answer I certainly can find it or hand you off to someone or someplace that has the answers.
 

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I'm with you Mike . What a great learning experience. I almost feel bad building a kit , as I know I can build one as good or stronger . It's not rocket science , and I was going to use hiwin linear rails , which makes it all that easier .

My problem is that after I sourcing the hiwin linear rails , aluminum T-slot extrusion, rack and pinion drives , Z-axis and the other associated parts ,after shipping from several vendors I'm not saving a dime . It may actually cost me more and some headaches .
Im my case I may as well spend $4200 at CNCrouterparts for there 4x4 pro version .

I will be be building the electronics though , as I'm certainly not spending $2500 on a plug and play Nema 34's , and I'm not spending another $1700 on a there vfd and spindle .
Be easier to troubleshoot later on if you build the electronics side of things yourself
eBay is your friend here, as you can often buy direct from the manufacturers. (Yes, they are in China, but many of them now have US warehouses which simplifies the shipping). The first big purchase I made for my build was for the linear rails, which came with the screws, glides, and everything you nee to connect to the motors and frames. I am on track to have my initial build done for under $1500 (USD).
 

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I'll go further and say a person doesn't even need CAM/CAD skills and can learn them.

I personally will help anyone that wants my assistance with CAD/CAM or the actual building of a CNC. And if I don't know the answer I certainly can find it or hand you off to someone or someplace that has the answers.
I do agree here. I guess I should have worded more that someone who has the skills to learn CAD/COM has the ability to learn how to do the more technical aspects of building a CNC.
 

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I personally will help anyone that wants my assistance with CAD/CAM or the actual building of a CNC. And if I don't know the answer I certainly can find it or hand you off to someone or someplace that has the answers.
Out of curiosity, which CAD/CAM software do you typically use? It seems that VCarve Pro is one of the more popular ones, but it will be awhile before I can consider that. Right now 100% of my CNC budget is going into the machine itself. For the software aspect, I plan on using LinuxCNC to drive the machine and Fusion360 for design and g-code generation.
 

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The one thing I love about Vectric's software is that they were designed up front to make it easy to go from a drawing (CAD) to tool paths(CAM) to a rendered image(sales and marketing of your work) of the results you'll get after cutting those tool paths. The progression is logical and obvious once one sees it demonstrated all the way through. Even if you prefer another CAD program it is likely you can import the resulting drawings for tool path creation and saving to load into LinuxCNC or Mach3/4 or whatever.

Their top level program Aspire also comes with several hundred dollars worth of usable 2D and 3D files.

The tool paths options include 2D and 2.5D and 3D choices. Rotary work as well. Post processors included cover just about every flavor of a CNC out there. Very clever efficient fluting and moulding options are there for simplifying what otherwise would require a 3D model. Profiles and pockets and engraving and inlay and drilling and textures and prism carving are toolpath choices. Two-sided projects can be worked on and viewed within the same file. I often get 3D files from my students that I can easily and more efficiently reproduce with the 2D and 2.5D tool path options.

I've only scratched the surface here. There are many reasons why many here use VCarve pro or Aspire.

4D
 

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I noticed a lot of new cnc builds are made with 8020 extrusions. Nothing wrong with this material except its high cost including the special nuts / bolts and brackets required for the assembly.

I build my cnc’s as a hobby and I’m using 3/8” or 1/2" thick aluminum flat bar or plate. A flat bar is perfect flat up to a 6” width and plate is always flat regardless the width. Much more work is needed to make a cnc with this materials since all holes must be drilled and tapped but the end result is a solid machine. Average size of my cnc’s is about 36”x 48”

The attached pictures show this cnc with a Taig spindle and a Sherline DC volts motor however any cutter can be attached to the plate where the Taig is mounted thus providing flexibility. I source all slide rails / ball screws from eBay and all electronics from Keling in USA.
 

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@kolias Well done on your machine. I too got my rails and ball screws from ebay. Looks like you are using SBR as I did on mine. I am using 8020 for my CNC build. Half of the 8020 I purchased I got at a steeply discounted price by bidding on it from eBay. Some of it I did have to order direct. However, after doing some research, I did find I was a little ahead using 8020 from a cost stand point then if I had used aluminum plate. The T-Nuts are a little expensive, but I bought 1/4-20 ones, so that I could use inexpensive machine screws that are easily found.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks again to all who have contributed.
I only can use a unit that will cut a 3 ft by 3 ft area. That is about all of the room I have in my little work shop to allow for a CNC. One of the concerns I have with building my own is the dexterity needed to build it. I have major problems with my hands so to handle tiny parts and do meticulous work is an issue. I would have to have a considerable amount of extra help. This is the main reason I am considering a new larger CNC. I enjoy wood working, but I am limited it what I can do anymore. Using a router and other power tools is very painful at times.

I want to again thank each of you for your input and I may just have to save a while longer to get exactly what I want.

Tagwatts
 
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